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A monthly commentary on “The Joy of Love” by Father Jacinto Farias

With the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the synod effort undertaken by Pope Francis has reached a decisive stage.  But the journey is not over and we must continue upon this path and remain concerned with the evangelisation and support of families.  It is in this spirit that Father Jacinto Farias has chosen to guide us each month in order to help us to accurately discern the scope of this text.

 

THE JOY OF THE CHURCH


Pope François published two documents, The Joy of the Gospel (2013) and The Joy of Love (2016), that contain a programmatic value and are both calls for joy.  In truth, we can say that both are on the same subject, because if the Gospel is a source of joy, human and Christian love is true only if it is lived in the light of the Gospel, that is the story of God’s love revealed in Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is a love that is totally committed and gave itself up to die of love, “…having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (Jn 13:1)

I am now going to start a series of meditations on Amoris laetitia, The Joy of Love.  It is going to be a simple contribution to help couples enter in to the spirit with which the Holy Father wrote this exhortation.  The document echoes and represents the recommendations formulated during the two synods of bishops on pastoral challenges for families in the context of the new evangelisation that took place in Rome in October 2014 and 2015.  The Pope’s concern is to stimulate and help families “in their daily commitments and challenges” (Amoris laetitia, 4), and for the document to be a guide “in building sound and fruitful homes in accordance with God’s plans.”( Amoris laetitia, 6)

We can forget neither the beauty nor the grandeur of Christian families who live the joy of love in the midst of ordeals and difficulties that the path of love entails. We all know that the most beautiful thing in life is to feel welcome, respected and valued and to be able to respond in a similar way.  We can never highlight enough the classic definition of friendship, which is to want the other person’s good for what they are and not for what they can give us.  This friendship is the cause for joy in families as well as in the Church.  As Pope Francis put is so well, “families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity.” (Amoris laetitia, 7) The future of the Church, and therefore of humanity, depends on the fact that “all will feel called to love and cherish family life.” (Amoris laetitia, 7)

Pope Francis invites us to have “mercy and discernment when faced with situations that fall short of what the Lord demands of us.” (Amoris laetitia, 6) In my opinion, this means that firstly, we are all invited to examine our consciences in order to see if we live according to what the Lord demands of us and secondly, we ought to do our utmost to find the means and help in the areas of human relations and of grace to reconcile our lives and our lifestyles with God’s thinking.  It is not a matter of adapting God’s will to our will, but, on the contrary, acting like the Virgin Mary, who replied the following to the angel, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)


Father José Jacinto Ferreira de Farias, scj
Spiritual Counsellor to the International Leading Team